An amazing video is circulating of a doctor performing surgery in the womb on a baby boy diagnosed with spina bifida.
The breathtaking footage shows Dr. Wael El Banna of Cairo and his surgical team removing the womb from the mother’s body through a small incision in her abdomen. The surgeon feels for the baby inside the womb and moves him into a suitable position for surgery. He then drains the fluid and surgically corrects the defect caused by the condition.
This surgery, which has been performed for years in the US, has had good rates of success. Recently, four women in the UK also underwent the procedure. Dr. El Banna’s surgery is the first of its kind in Egypt.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Dr. El Banna recalled the mother’s touching words at the appointment where she found out about her son’s diagnosis and the surgical option available to them. “Her words were so touching – ‘I know that he will suffer and I will do anything to help him.’” He said she rejected the abortion option entirely. In the UK, 85% of children diagnosed with some form of spina bifida are aborted, according to the Daily Mail.
The baby had a particular malformation of spina bifida called hindbrain herniation in which the hindbrain descends into the upper spinal canal, located in the baby’s neck. This prevents the circulation of spinal fluid and can cause a buildup which injures the developing brain. The condition also causes a section of nerves and spinal cord to open, which can cause cause reduced sensation leading to bladder and bowel problems, inability to walk, and other neurologic injuries.
The surgery, usually done between 22 and 26 weeks of pregnancy, greatly reduces the need to divert excess fluid away from the brain, therefore lowering the chances of cognitive impairments. It also and significantly mitigates reduced sensation and hindered motor function in the legs, increasing the chances of the patient being able to walk independently. Although the surgery includes risk of preterm birth and associated respiratory distress syndrome, the babies who have had the surgery before birth do much better than those who have corrective surgery after birth.
According to Dr. El Banna, the surgery was a success. “’There are lots of technical complications and lots of things which could go wrong with this procedure,” he said according to the Daily Mail. “The defect was repaired successfully and the fluid was injected back around the foetus and the womb and abdomen were closed. She [the mother] was put in a strict post-operative protocol and, thank God, the foetus and the mother are doing well.” An ultrasound one week later showed the baby’s spine looking healthier. The mother also recovered well.
A baby who had the same procedure in England earlier in the year was declared completely healthy at birth. You can watch the surgery in the video below (may be sensitive material for some viewers):
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